And now it’s May.
Time, and the seemingly multiple speeds at which it passes, is an odd thing when you’re Doomed. I usually feel like each day is the same, day after day, like being stuck in a boat on an ocean with no real destination but the sunset. With the exception of the occasional island stop for a holiday or other landmark the days blend, zoom by, never-ending water.
So it’s May, and next month is June, then July, etc. Does it matter anymore? Just names, numbers whizzing by meaninglessly. The only difference to look forward to is each month I get to flip to the next picture in the Ariana photo calendar my wife had made for Christmas presents. Which is not only one of my favorite things but a good focus, a reminder that the past really is the past now for me. It brings to mind a sticker I had on my last sportbike on the mirror, a parody warning that stated “Objects in the mirror no longer matter.”
Of course thanks to chemo-brain my past is patchy at best now as well, just fragments and half-finished sentences where I know I forgot something but I have no idea what it was anymore. For someone who traded most of their life on their brains for lack of any other worthy currency, that’s disturbing on a level I can’t really describe.
I think a big part of why I feel like the days move so fast now is simply how I’ve mentally conditioned myself to deal with stress and anxiety. I just don’t think past “today” anymore. As one of the Doomed I’ve come to realize that “tomorrow” contains all of the stuff I don’t want to deal with. For example:
- Need to get a PET scan. While I’m curious about the results I’m also nervous. It makes me think back to when I used to go to doctors without the now ubiquitous anxiety of all test results, something that we get to live with the rest of our lives as members of this particular tribe. It shouldn’t be necessary to say out loud but I miss those days. Also, regardless of how benign I just don’t enjoy the concept of being irradiated.
- Need to figure out what’s next chemo-wise. It may be a continuation of Dara, but given the last few weeks now who knows what surprises are in store. PACE, something else, etc.
- Need to do something more permanent about the nausea. I have a feeling daily Xofran is probably not the best life choice.
- Need, as usual, to solve a problem between my wife and I and my parents. I’m always a fan of that (not). Second or third largest source of stress in my life and easily the longest lasting one, although cancer has done quite the job of catching up in just the short time it’s been around.
- Need to do something more permanent about this back pain. Part of this will be decided for me when the results of the PET scan come back, but this is getting irritating as is my need for painkilling on a daily basis. All I know is by 5-6 pm my lower back feels like it’s declared independence from the rest of my body in a BREXIT sort of action and the Russian hacking mafia are now stepping in and making up the worst similes ever to describe things. Jesus this bullet point went off the rails quickly. TL:DR version — BACK PAIN BAD.
That’s not a complete to-do list but it’s the kind of line items that pop up gopher-like the minute I even stretch my perception a few days out, much less further. And if we go further than a day or two of tomorrows we risk opening Pandora’s ever-present box.
Today? Today I don’t have to come face to face with my darkest fears about cancer and my future. I’ll focus on my side effects and leave the adulting ’till tomorrow.
Today I don’t have to do anything else but go home from work (where I allegedly may or may not do quite a bit of my writing), grit my teeth through the back pain and spend an hour of quality time with my daughter before her bedtime. Tonight’s not my night to read to her but maybe today I can grit through the exhaustion too and ask her if she minds if I read tonight as well. You never know how many nights you get to do that, you know? They feel numbered to me.
Today I don’t have to worry about PACE and all of the other awful shit hiding around the corner. I just need to be kind and a good listener and take the medications I’m supposed to take. Decisions can be made some other day, not tonight. Once Ariana goes to bed all I have to worry about is what video game to relax with, what High on Fire track I want to start listening to (my latest musical infatuation) and where the fuck the pain remedies are.
Today I don’t have to pack up the laptop and snacks and a few Izzes because I need to be at the doctor at some ungodly hour the next day to start chemotherapy — seriously, 7:30 am? With a kiddo and a 30 minute commute there from my house without accounting for traffic through the busiest sections of Denver roads? Shudder. That’s a Thursday problem though, not today.
Today I don’t have to think about how even were I to get to remission and stay there, I’ll spend the rest of my life waiting for the other cancer shoe to drop. Sounds low anxiety, right?
Today I just need to get through the day the best way I can and leave the thinking, decision-making and tears for “tomorrow.”
And try not to remember that tomorrow always comes.